HC comes down on CBI in custodial death case

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Kochi, Jan 24 (PTI) In a stinging remark against CBI,Kerala High Court today said some senior officials of theprobe agency including a joint director had "interfered" inthe investigation of a custodial death, in which two IPSofficers are among the accused.

Justice V Ram Kumar said CBI Joint Director (south)Ashok Kumar, SP Shiny and ASP Nanda Kumaran Nair "are notentitled to interfere with the functional autonomy or freedomof the investigation team" probing the death of Sampath, amurder case accused, who died in police custody last March.

The court warned the CBI higher-ups that if it comesacross any more ''unwholesome conduct'' on their part or thoseabove them trying to influence or pressurise the investigatingteam, the court will be forced to discharge the unpleasantduty of initiating action for contempt besides summoning Kumarand initiating him to take suitable action against suchofficers.

The court said the officers should realise that bysuch "devious conduct" they are harming the reputation andcredibility of the premier investigation agency.

The court directed police and CBI to provide adequateprotection to the members of the investigation team whoserequest in this regard "have fallen on deaf ears".

Justice Kumar also warned that if there was anysecurity lapse, the state and CBI would be held responsible.

The remarks were made by the court after perusing thecopies of the tri-weekly progress report and connected recordsprovided in a sealed cover by the chief investigating officerin the case.

The judge condemned the attempt by the CBI SP to meethim in his chamber.

"The unsuccessful attempt by CBI SP Shiny to meet mein my chamber and complain through her standing counsel thatthe investigation team is functioning indifferently andcontrary to CBI guidelines" confirms the fear expressed bypetitioner, Murukesan, brother of Sampath, that some membersof the IPS lobby in CBI are after the investigating teampresumably to protect the interests of two "erring" IPSofficers.

The investigation team is answerable to law and lawonly and not to their masters, the court pointed out.

The case was handed over to CBI after Sampath''sbrother approached the high court stating that attempts werebeing made to scuttle the investigation.

Sampath was arrested in connection with the murder ofSheela, a housewife in Palakkad last March, and he diedallegedly during questioning by police.

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